You’re probably already worried. The divorce process is overwhelming to say the least. Rest assured, that’s a natural feeling to have, and it’s not unusual for many people to describe divorce as one of the most stressful times in their life. In fact, it ranks number two in stressful life events after the death of a spouse or child. So worrying is normal.
In the divorce process, stress often increases during the divorce mediation process. Why? Because you know this is where you’ll make critical decisions about the future. As your nervousness increases going into the mediation process, remember the following tips:
1. Not all mediators are the same.
You may have heard horror stories about divorce meditations that have gone terribly wrong. But those are not the norm. The reason you hear about them is that everyone talks about the bad stuff. People tend to be quieter when things go right. If you’ve chosen a good attorney, that attorney will know a good mediator. Or, if you are choosing your own mediator, know that most mediators do make an effort to be as fair as possible, even if they have to manage a power struggle between parties to the divorce.
The divorce mediation process depends to a large extent on the level of conflict in the divorce. The best thing you can do is go into your mediation process extremely well-prepared and try and remain trusting and open to the process. If you find that your mediator is biased or difficult to work with, don’t hesitate to fire that mediator and hire someone else. It’s your divorce and it’s too important a moment in your life to work with a sub-par professional.
2. If your ex tried to manipulate or dominate you during the marriage, he or she will likely try to do the same during divorce mediation.
People don’t change much, and past behavior is often a perfect indicator of present and future behavior. There’s a reason you’re getting divorced, after all. The divorce process, and the divorce mediation process in particular, is a great opportunity for you not to put up with bad behavior again. Divorce is freeing for many people because they realize they no longer have be bullied into making decisions that are not in their best interests or the best interest of their children.
If you are concerned about an imbalance of power or intimidation, bring that forward in mediation as well. A good mediator will do what’s best to make sure everything is conducted in a fair manner without intimidation on either side.
3. Know exactly what results you want from the mediation.
You don’t want to go into the mediation process arguing out of anger or just to be right. That’s a common mistake and it doesn’t get you what you need. You need to mediate a financial settlement that you can live with going forward, and you need a child custody plan and monetary support plan that will work as well.
Doing things like trying to take things that you know your ex wants, just because you know he or she wants them, is not a good use of mediation, and will prolong the time and expense of the entire process. You need to have a clear idea of what you want, and that should be what you argue for in mediation.
4. The more you can agree on during mediation, the better.
You may not like your ex right now (and you may never like your ex again), but the mediation table is not the place to express those feelings. If you can agree on a few things right away, it establishes a sense of trust so you both know things are going to be worked out fairly. You don’t want to give up what is in your own best interests, but you also want to agree on things that don’t matter much. Pick your battles. Then negotiate for what matters.
5. No one is right or wrong in the mediation room.
The divorce mediation process is not about winning points against your ex-spouse. Divorce mediation is about negotiating a fair settlement of the marital property between two people. Therefore, keeping score during the mediation process is a waste of time and energy.
You might watch your ex flounder around in the score-keeping department, but if you keep a cool head on your shoulders and recognize mediation for the business deal that it is, the divorce process will end faster, cost less and you’ll be on your way.
You will be bound by the final agreement between you and your ex, but that beats spending the sizable money and time going to court and appearing before a judge who would make those important decisions for you without knowing you and your family personally.
To call and schedule a consultation regarding mediation with one of our local Seattle divorce attorneys, please call (206) 547-1486.